FEBRURARY 21, 2009, 9:00 AM

9:00am           Coffee and refreshments
9:15am           Welcome and Introductions Milda Richardson, NE/SAH President
Jana Cephas, Christian Hedrick, Erik Lundberg, Catherine McMahon NE/SAH Student Liaisons

SESSION 1: Movement and The Urban Experience

9:30am           “Circulation versus Sequential Experience: Architectural Notation and Modes of Movement in Urban Design”

Divya Rao Heffley, History of Art and Architecture, Brown University

In the United States during the 1960s, a number of abstract space time notation systems were created as graphic shorthand to describe the complex visual experience of moving through urban space.  These notations allowed the urban planner to chart the perceptual experience of the city in motion and were intended as an alternative to the plans and models of the traditional urban designer. This paper will investigate two such notation systems, one by Lawrence Halprin and another by Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch, and John Myer, both of which were loosely based on the notational systems of music and dance and consisted of abstract symbols read against a framework of distance and time.  These systems were based on the concept that the creation of a sensitive and contextual urban landscape was dependent upon an awareness of design for sequential experience, as opposed to the more widespread practice of design for urban circulation.  The tension between these two modes of movement, each with its own proponents and history, is representative of two competing modes of perception – the embedded versus the Olympian perspective – and is, moreover, reflective of the fissures that began to appear at mid-century in the discourse on urban renewal. 

Divya Rao Heffley received her BA in the History of Art from Yale University in 2001 and her MA from Brown University, where she is currently a fifth-year student and PhD candidate in the History of Art and Architecture.  Her doctoral research explores urban mapping and the notation of movement through the urban fabric and explores how these practices engaged with advances in spatial perception and ecological psychology as well as discourse on the creation and meaning of place.  In 2008-2009, Divya’s research is funded by the Carter Manny Award of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

House of Cars”

                        Aleta Budd, Master of Architecture program, Northeastern University


The disruption of the car on a physical level has been well documented; it and “sprawl” have become synonymous with “evil” in some academic circles. While this paper acknowledges the physical implications of the car in America, it uses them as a tool in diagnosing the larger social ills produced by living in a culture so wholly and happily dependent on the car. From the earliest pattern book houses in the 1920s, the car has gradually demanded space in the home, neighborhood and city. For the past 80 years, as evidenced through domestic architecture, Americans have been more than gracious in accommodating these demands. However, social and psychological changes accompany these physical adaptations. When these changes are extended to larger scales the car, and the mentality produced because of it, significantly alter what it means to participate as a citizen, producing a highly insular, hyper-privatized way of life. While there may be physical solutions for deemphasizing the role of the car in American culture, this paper proposes that the mentality generated because of the automobile’s preeminent role may be beyond simple physical repair.

Aleta Budd is in her final semester of the Master of Architecture program at Northeastern University’s School of Architecture. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the school in 2008. During her undergraduate career, Aleta was selected as a recipient of a Design Award and her work has been published in a faculty member’s book on architectural representation. After graduation, she hopes to pursue an additional master’s degree in urban planning and public policy.

                        “Urban Planning in the Aftermath of Newark: New Jersey’s “Long Hot Summer” of 1967”

Brian Goldstein, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning, Harvard University

During the “long hot summers” of 1967 and 1968, urban uprisings swept the inner cities of America’s industrial metropolises.  For many looking back, such violence marked the nadir of America’s postwar urban history, signaling the failure of the Civil Rights Movement as it turned north and serving as the most visible indication of America’s urban crisis.  Newark, New Jersey’s history is no exception, and many have seen the severity of its violence in July 1967 as the start of the city’s decline.  This paper, however, takes a different approach to urban violence in the late 1960s.  In studying neighborhood resistance to an urban renewal project that was to consume 150 acres of Newark’s Central Ward, I will argue that uprisings had a productive effect too, one that facilitated one neighborhood’s attempt to control the fate of its space.  In the Central Ward, recent memory of the riots enabled an alternative urban redevelopment vision to emerge, one that met the real needs of this community.  In the space created by the so-called “riots,” residents led by the Newark Area Planning Association confronted city officials as equals and crafted a positive production of space that contrasted greatly with the destruction of July.

Brian Goldstein is a second year graduate student in the PhD program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning at Harvard University.  He previously managed the First Impressions program in the Office of the Chief Architect at the U.S. General Services Administration.  He graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies in 2004.  Brian’s research focuses on the history of urban planning in the postwar American city, especially as it intersects with race, inequality, and social movements of the 1960s.  His work has centered on Rustbelt cities including Cincinnati, Newark, New Haven, and New York City.

10:20am         Discussion

SESSION 2: The Craft of Art 

10:35am         “The Possibilities of Sketching”

Jordan Kauffman, History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This paper uses Michelangelo’s drawings for the Porta Pia in Rome as a means to enter into a discussion about the role of sketching within the architectural design process.  In attempting to understand the qualities present in these works, and to understand how these qualities entered into drawing, it will focus on the development of sketching within the creative process in the Renaissance. Here, Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, and Giorgio Vasari are most pertinent, as they offer successive articulations of the role of drawing and sketching.  Through these thinkers, we are forced to consider the development of a dynamic relationship in which the quality of the mark and the mind of the designer both take part.

Jordan Kauffman is a third-year PhD student in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He has an MA from the Histories and Theories program at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London.  

                         “Robert Adam’s Chinoiserie Designs for Harewood House”

David Pullins, History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

Taking Robert Adam’s looking-glass designs for the state bedchamber at Harewood House, Leeds (1769) as a case study, this paper examines the role of Adam’s chinoiserie designs in negotiating the boundaries between architect and cabinetmaker and between public and private space in the neoclassical house.  Models of a hybrid aesthetic, Adam’s designs utilize formal ambivalences between classical and chinoiserie ornament to destabilize the assumption that these categories can be neatly circumscribed.  As visual sutures between conventional spatial divisions within the domestic interior, the designs are also witty plays on ornamental language that provide evidence of the broader cultural knowledge of an architect celebrated for (and often summarized by) his alliance with a normative classicism.  Adam’s work at Harewood will be contextualized between his two other chinoiserie commissions, ceiling and carpet designs for Elizabeth Montagu’s dressing room at 23 Hill Street, London (1766) and a chimneypiece design for the Upper Hall at Kenwood House, Hampstead (1772-73).

David Pullins received a B.A. in art history from Columbia University and a M.A. as a Peter Jay Sharp Scholar at The Courtauld Institute of Art.  After working for two years in the curatorial department of The Frick Collection, he is now in his first year of a Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture at Harvard University.  Focusing on eighteenth-century Europe, his research interests include cross-cultural aesthetic exchange, the relationship between people and objects and the role of historicism in art and architecture.

                         “Ancient Ruins and Sacred Spaces: Constantin Brancusi’s complex in Targu Jiu, Romania”

                        Andana Streng, Art History & Political Science, Williams College

Constantin Brancusi lived in Romania for almost thirty years before moving to Paris in 1904, yet the conceptual influence of his Romanian formative years has not been fully discussed. Analyzes range from a focus on formal similarities to an exploration of Romanian ethnographic forms or customs, but they all fail to fully explain Brancusi’s apparent use of time as a modeling tool in his art. Was this influence exerted merely in terms of formal elements, or is it connected to a more general experience of the connection between ancient art forms and the sacred, a connection of art forms with sacred spaces and functions? I will argue that the three elements of his complex in Targu Jiu, Romania, the /Table of Silence/, the /Gate of the Kiss/ and the /Endless Column, /are the culmination of Brancusi’s attempt to recreate primitive man’s “cosmic feeling”, a particularly ritualistic experience of the sacred. Never far from mysticism, Brancusi’s conceptual thinking focused on the idea that modern man can experience this form of the sacred by reconnecting with art forms that pertain to a generic, ancient and holistic culture. Using Mircea Eliade’s concepts of /sacred/, /profane/ and /hierophany/, I will analyze the degree to which his ensemble in Romania can be construed as sacred architecture and as an “as-if” vestige of a generic primitive culture that still retains an inherent sense of sacred.

Andana Streng is an international student from Romania and is currently a senior undergraduate student at Williams College pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in art history and political science. I have been interested in Constantin Brancusi’s art ever since my freshman year in college. This interest culminated in two independent research projects and helped me earn a Wilmers Travel Fellowship for the summer of 2008 in which I investigated the correlation between Romanian medieval architecture and Brancusi’s artistic concepts. In the future, I intend to pursue a Doctoral Degree in which I want to focus on the effects of emigration and cultural legacy on French Modern art.

11:25am         Discussion

11:40pm         Break 

SESSION 3: Heritage, Transnationalism and the Urban Landscape

12:00pm         “Pseudo-fragments of Heritage: Michael Rakowitz’s “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist””

Anneka Lenssen, History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture & Art, and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, M.I.T.

“The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist” (2007), an installation by American artist Michael Rakowitz, takes as its subject the “disappearing” of thousands of artifacts from the Iraq National Museum after the 2003 sack of Baghdad. Rakowitz and a team of assistants launched an ongoing project to reconstruct the 7,000 archaeological artifacts still missing from Iraq’s National Museum. The reconstructions, however, are crafted from scraps of the commercial present such as Middle Eastern food packaging and Arabic-language newspapers sourced from U.S. cities. Ultimately replacing artifacts with artistic surrogates, and official statements with contingent and ad hoc narratives, the built objects destabilize the relationship between created, historical artifacts and authentic expressions of identity (personal or cultural). In my paper, I propose a reading of the installation components – the reconstructions, a custom-built display table, hand-drawn cartoons, texts, and a funky cover band soundtrack – that presents a serious challenge to prevailing valuations of heritage. With its frank interrogation of the rhetoric of stewardship, the piece repositions the exhibition and market function of the contemporary art fair juggernaut. By its complex mode of institutional critique, The Invisible Enemy shows how the processes for annihilating and recuperating value operate in excess of any protective architecture, whether the museum form or identity-based branding.

Anneka Lenssen is a third year PhD student at MIT in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture program and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. For her dissertation, she is researching painting and film-making in Damascus (Syria), 1958-1973, with a particular interest in their relationship to transnational cultural movements during the Cold War.

                        “From Barcelona to Boston: Local and Transnational Influences in José Luis Sert’s Buildings at Boston University”

Brian Sirman, American & New England Studies Program, Boston University


In his recent book Architecture of the Absurd, John Silber writes that José Luis Sert’s buildings “have long worn out their welcome along the Charles River.”  Significantly, the deficiencies that Silber identifies in these structures (at Harvard and, especially, at Boston University) pertain mostly to the transnational ideas that informed their designs.  This paper will assess the influence of transnationalism on Sert’s buildings at Boston University (the George Sherman Union, Mugar Memorial Library, and the Law School tower).  Sert’s upbringing in Barcelona and his travels and experience throughout Europe are evident in each of these buildings.  Equally obvious is Sert’s consideration of local design customs, including pre-existing buildings and previous campus master-plans.  The tension between localism and transnationalism that is inherent in Sert’s Boston University buildings renders them controversial structures to this day.  An assessment of the successes and failures of these buildings as transnational architectural statements derives from both the short- and long-term reception of these works and their influence on future campus construction.

Brian Sirman holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Boston University.  He is currently a first-year Ph.D. student in Boston University’s American & New England Studies Program.  His general research interests include twentieth-century architecture, urbanism, and literature, with a particular focus on the intersection of architecture and American culture.  Currently, he is researching the Southwest Corridor Project and the relocation of Boston’s Orange Line subway.

                        “Citibank: Urbanism and Media”

Olga Pantelidou, Environmental Design, Yale School of Architecture

A bank’s space of operation can be perceived as comprised of diverse material and immaterial spaces and the connections between them as they span around the globe. Banking law and technology are identified as the external factors that primarily control the manner in which a bank conceives and implicitly designs its spatial system. Their historical analysis and the manner they interweave with the evolution of banking architecture can provide an understanding of the spatial dimensions in which a bank operates. The case of Citibank during the 1970s offers insight to the transformation of banking architecture into mass media along with a bank’s formative influence on an urban landscape. Citibank, then, became “the Citi that never sleeps,” flooding a nearly bankrupt New York City with a new transaction space, the ATM, as part of Branch ’77, a complete redesign of its retail experience, and erected the Citicorp Tower, the newest addition to its administrative axis, comprised of high-rise buildings placed along a sequence of stations on the E subway line. By navigating changes in law and technology, Citibank engaged in a spatial communicative strategy that enabled it to actively participate in, respond to and influence its environment at a metropolitan scale.

Olga Pantelidou is a PhD candidate at the School of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece and a 2nd year graduate student at the Yale School of Architecture’s Master of Environmental Design (MED) program. She holds two master degrees, one in Information Systems, and another in Architecture and is an accredited Architectural Engineer in Europe. Her research is currently focused on how banking law and technology affect the space in which a bank operates, from a physical enclosure to a city and beyond. In 2004, she participated in the 9th International Exhibition of Architecture, ”Bienalle di Venezia.”

12:50pm         Discussion